Employment At-Will: West Virginia
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Eric E. Kinder, Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC
- West Virginia adheres to the employment at-will doctrine based on decisions of the state courts. Employees who wish to establish the existence of an employment contact bear the burden of proof. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
- Written provisions in employee manuals or handbooks distributed by employers may alter the at-will employment relationship and can be used to establish the existence of an employment contract. See Employment Contracts.
- Verbal promises pertaining to employment tenure or grounds for termination may also form the basis for employment contracts, so long as the terms of the promise include the requisite details. See Employment Contracts.
- West Virginia recognizes public policy exceptions to the at-will employment relationship, but requires that the public policy considerations derive from specific sources of law. See Public Policy Exceptions.
- There are numerous exceptions to the at-will employment relationship based on statutes enacted by the West Virginia State Legislature. See Statutory Exceptions.
- West Virginia courts do not recognize an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the context of at-will employment. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
- West Virginia courts recognize other torts related to the employment relationship, including intentional infliction of emotional distress or "outrage," fraud, intentional interference with a contract and defamation. See Exceptions in Tort.